The Conservative Party’s most senior activists overwhelmingly back a Clean Brexit on 29th March

The Conservative Party’s most senior activists overwhelmingly back a Clean Brexit on 29th March

On Saturday, I proposed the following motion to the Conservative National Convention a meeting of the most senior members of the Voluntary Party, at which the Prime Minister later spoke:

“The National Convention supports the commitments the Prime Minister has made to the country to honour the European Union Referendum result of 2016 that having triggered Article 50 we will leave the European Union on the 29th March 2019. Another referendum, a delay beyond the European elections, taking ‘no deal’ off the table or not leaving at all would betray the 2016 Peoples Vote and damage democracy and our Party for a generation.”

It passed by an overwhelming ratio of 5:1.

The reason I decided to organise and present this motion is that I felt that our Prime Minister, who is working exceptionally hard to deliver Brexit, needed to know that Conservative Party’s grassroots are behind her in that endeavour.

The message is clear: the party needs to honour the commitments that have been made regarding the EU referendum. From David Cameron’s pledge that the result of the referendum would be binding and therefore would be implemented – to the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech, and of course the 2017 manifesto and the campaign promises that were made.

We must be in no doubt what Brexit means. During the campaign itself both sides were clear that a vote to Leave meant leaving the Single Marketso freedom of movement would endand that we would leave the Customs Union so that we could become again a global country and negotiate deep and far-reaching trade deals with the rest of the world. It is therefore essential for future trust in the democratic process that the Government and Parliament deliver on these promises and deliver Brexit on 29th March – the Brexit that was promised, not Brexit In Name Only.

It was an honour to speak on Saturday straight after Sir Graham Brady who, in an excellent speech about positive Conservative policies for the country, also discussed his amendment. His amendment, and the legally binding exit mechanism from the backstop that it specified, has to be the basis for the Withdrawal Agreement to be agreed, in order to meet our commitments.

It is a mark of our great party that MPs with differing views of Brexit have come together to agree the Malthouse Compromise and I hope that this offers the Prime Minister an alternative positive solution to pursue, since it does offer an effective route out of ‘no deal’. Whilst none of us actively want ‘no deal’, it is absolutely essential that it is kept on the table, otherwise we seriously reduce our negotiating tools with the likely result we would be forced to accept the Withdrawal Agreement, which would risk us entering a Customs Union under the backstop that we cannot get out of unilaterally.

Some of the terms being thrown around at the moment, including by the BBC, to describe anyone who wants to deliver Brexit as promised (i.e. leaving the Customs Union and Single Market) – as a ‘hardline’ Brexiteer, disloyal, an extremist, not prepared to compromise – are just plain wrong. We are simply ensuring that the promises the Prime Minister made to the country are delivered upon, so that trust in politics itself is not undermined, and that the Conservative Party is not reduced to breaking the ‘deal’ it made with the British people to act upon their instructions on 23rd June 2016.

I find it absolutely incredible that the three MPs who defected last week, together with a few Remain-supporting ministers and ex-ministers, can say without a hint of irony that we Brexiteers are disloyal. Let’s be clear, it is they who have altered their positions; changing from ‘we must implement the will of the people’, to complete opportunism now which ranges from barely disguised moves to thwart Brexit, to calling for us all to vote all over again in a re-run of the first referendum.

The Conservative Party has committed to delivering Brexit on 29th March and it must do so for the good of our great nation, the future of our democracy, and for our party. Then we can start to work together to create the next episode in our country’s great story.